While the number of books published in translation in the United Kingdom remains low—research by Literature Across Frontiers, a platform for literary exchange, translation and policy debate produced an average figure of 3% over the past 20 years—the success of the likes of Karl Ove Knausgård, Elena Ferrante, and Han Kang is catalysing interest towards books written in languages other than English. The number of literary translations grew by 66% between 1990 and 2015, LAF says. Among the most popular source languages were Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch, alongside Arabic and Japanese. These figures conceal the fact that out of the world’s thousands of literary cultures, only a few ever achieve any level of representation in English. For those who translate from these under-represented languages, it is an opportunity to act beyond the traditional boundaries of a translator.
Mo Yan’s 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature win has yet to ease China’s big break on the Western literary market. “There is a huge canon of contemporary Chinese literature that no one in the United Kingdom has ever heard of,” says Nicky Harman, previously a teacher of translation at Imperial College London and a full-time translator of Chinese since 2011. “I have the privilege of pushing open the window.” Harman is one of the Chinese into English translators who set up Paper Republic, a website that promotes Chinese literature, in 2008. Continue reading
It’s time we finally moved on from top-down website design and put the end user first, said Vicky Drummond, Head of Web Marketing, and Jenny Mathias, Global Marketing Director, both from Cambridge University Press (CUP), at the London Book Fair on 12 April. CUP is set to launch its new platform, which will combine the existing journals and books sites, this summer.
“We’ve had an online presence for 20 years now, but splitting 19 million pages worth of content over two platforms based on the format of the data—which isn’t relevant online anyway—simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Cambridge Core allows us to group content around subject areas but should also improve our search engine visibility.”
Vicky Drummond, Head of Web Marketing at CUP
In the new platform design, built entirely from scratch, all decisions are justified with end-user needs. To understand the users’ site journeys and preferences the team ran a global survey which included 50 face to face interviews. They identified four user personas: researcher, librarian, student, and author, who effectively guided the creation of Cambridge Core. “Persona-driven development allows us to put the user at the heart of what we do, and operate from facts based on research instead of guesswork. For example, our data shows most users are too impatient to perform searches on the site, which means we have to give them a clear path forward from the arrival page. Equally, we need to know what data they want when they do decide to make a search,” Drummond says.
Publishers must stop looking at free as a threat to their business, industry experts urge. The cost of creating content remains high, and publishers still fear losing the money invested in the production process. This is a mistake, says founder and CEO of Accent Press, Hazel Cushion. The Wales-based independent publishing house, set up in Cushion’s living-room in 2003, has thrived on content offered for free.
“We decided early on to focus on low production cost e-books, which hardly anyone did then. Our first success story with free was Christina Jones’s Tickled Pink. We acquired and re-jacketed the novel, which was 8 years old, and offered it for free on Kindle.” The chick-lit novel was marketed aggressively in July, the prime time for light holiday reading sales. Accent Press took advantage of Amazon listing free and paid e-book downloads in the same chart, a practise the company has since dropped. “Tickled Pink shot up to number two on the combined downloads list with 17,000 dowloads, then took over Fifty Shades of Grey to become the most downloaded book on Kindle.” Continue reading